As it loves to do, DC Comics has once again jumped its characters into a whole new setting.
Years ago, such trips into these new realities were called “Elseworlds” titles.
Now, they’re just part of what DC calls its multiverse.
It’s in these worlds where writers and artists are allowed to explore different takes of characters that can’t be fussed with, or else risk the wrath of the Warner Bros. merchandising department.
You want to mess with relative nobodies like the Creeper or Elongated Man, and you don’t get any guff.
A writer can turn those guys into zombie astronauts and nobody bats an eye.
But cut Wonder Woman’s hair? Put Superman in a new suit? Kill off Batman?
Then you’re in for it.
The media calls. Fans get upset. The world collapses into a black hole.
So, when someone gets a classy idea for one of DC’s heavyhitters, the company has learned to spin it as a “What If” story or, as mentioned above, toss it into a whole new “universe” and let them play around.
Such is the case for the latest Batman experiment.
In “Batman/Doc Savage Special” No. 1, Batman is knocked back to the earliest roots of his crimefighting career: That of a pulp fiction hero.
You see, Batman was pretty clearly inspired by the crimefighting pulp heroes such as the Shadow, the Spider and a multitude of others.
Heck, there was even one actually called “The Bat.”
Just like Batman, all these guys relied on a good right hook, a variety of gadgets and a bellyful of revenge in their quest to right wrongs.
In this comic, dubbed the first issue of DC’s new “First Wave” universe, introduces us to a Batman who lives in a pulp fiction world.
Most notably, DC secured the license for Doc Savage, one the pulp era’s most-loved heroes.
The story unfolds as the stunningly skilled Savage comes to Batman’s hometown, Gotham, to fight corruption, which he thinks is being lead by the Caped Crusader.
Gleeful Batman moments come and go, but more importantly, comics readers get a chance to see Doc Savage in action, and learn a little more about him. A text and sketch section in the back of the book also outlines other characters that will appear in future issues, including The Spirit, Justice Inc., Black Canary and the Blackhawk Squadron.
Written by Brian Azzarello, the dialogue is tight, well-paced and amusing at times. Art is handled smooth and sexy by Phil Noto, whose style looks great as it portrays the art-deco look at its finest.
I stumbled over an interlude that included the future Commissioner Gordon, but otherwise, it’s a solid book, and I can’t wait for more.
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